LIONS OF MARASH: Personal Experiences with American Near East Relief 1919-1922
by Stanley E. Kerr
The Lions of Marash is humanitarian and Near East Relief (NER) official Stanley Kerr's eye-witness account of the events which resulted in the annihilation of the Armenian population of Marash, in Central Anatolia, following World War I, 1919-1923. On 10 February 1920, the French garrison at Marash withdrew abruptly under cover of darkness, abandoning more than twenty thousand Armenians to the Turkish Nationalist forces. The French pullout caused considerable embarrassment in Paris and roused a storm of angry protest in England and the United States, but for the Armenians of Marash, and all of Cilicia, it led to renewed massacre and to final exodus.
American philanthropy administered through Near East Relief (NER), successor organization to the American Committee for Relief in the Near East (ACRNE), saved thousands of starving Armenian women and children from Turkish marauders. Among the scores of men and women who responded to ACRNE's call for volunteers in 1919 was Stanley E. Kerr, then an officer in the United States Army Sanitary Corps. First serving at Aleppo in a multiplicity of positions, including clinical biochemist, and photographer, Kerr transferred in the autumn of 1919 to Marash, where he took charge of American relief operations after the French withdrawal. In view of the fact that many Turks regarded the Americans as collaborators with the French and Armenians, it was at no small risk that Kerr and his courageous colleagues stayed at their posts to help the thousands of Armenians whom the French had deserted. Indeed, the uncertainties of a hostage-like existence did not end until Kerr departed for Beirut with the last caravan of Armenian orphans in 1922.
Although Dr. Kerr's personal experiences form the basis for his account, he also has utilized the studies and memoirs of French officers, and priests, Turkish military historians, and Armenian survivors, particularly prominent Protestant and Catholic spokesmen.
In Original Shrink Wrap.